[iDC] Remix Reader

Paul D. Miller anansi1 at earthlink.net
Sun Apr 16 15:20:16 EDT 2006

Hey people - it's a pleasure to see some of the threads on the list.

The main issue is:

1) You have to think about different kinds of 
literacy. I think Lev Manovich would be totally 
illiterate of youth culture's global fascination 
with hybridity and convergent media - I'm saying 
that as a friend. I did music for his "Soft 
Cinema" project, and we've had discussions about 
this. Alot of the digital theory scene simply 
cannot process divergent forms of sound art, and 
digital media. They can deal with Japan, China, 
and India, but Jamaica, Africa and, ahem, 
African-Americans, are a no-go zone for theories 
of digital media and sound art. I've never been 
quite sure why that is, but, yeah, it's there.

The curators in the artworld have no idea about 
how to deal with this, and the digital media 
scene in terms of the real practice of 
multi-culturalism, needs some serious work as 

In Eduardo's piece, for example, starts with RZA, 
but doesn't engage the real practical 
relationships of the Caribbean (especially 
producers in Jamaica) whose practice of 
"versioning" directly anticipates hip-hop, or for 
that matter the idea of call and response blues 
from the turn of the last century. There are so 
many other places to start - Bollywood's ability 
to absorb the complex vocabulary of Hollywood 
film, Egyptian cinema, West African film makers 
like Sembene Ousmane... It's all about collage 
based composition. I'd say Brian Eno and David 
Byrne's "My Life in The Bush of ghosts" is 
probably alot more creative than alot of the 
hip-hop you hear today, and in fact, it's been 
sampled alot, but then again, so has Fela. RZA 
took that kind of hybridity, and made a brand out 
of it... But then again, so did King Tubby.


If you are open, there's plenty of interesting material out there.

A very very very brief primer for those interested in "remix" culture:

Valentine de St. Point "Manifesto of Lust" - 1915

Luigi Russolo - The Art of Noise - 1915

Theodore Adorno - The form of the Phonograph

Norman Mailer's "The White Negro" - 1957

Amiri Baraka - Blues People: Negro Music in White America, 1963

Alfred Appel - Jazz Modernism  - 2003

Eduoard Glissant - Poetics of Relation, 1997

Jeff Chang's Can't Stop Won't Stop, 2005

and of course, my book "Rhythm Science" that came 
out on MIT Press a little while ago.


Stevem Shaviro has an excellent on-line teaching 
resource about sampling as well:



These are the liner notes to a Box Set CD I've done with Trojan Records.

Trojan Records is a legendary record label 
started by Arthur "Duke" Reid in Kingston, 
Jamaica in the late 1960's. It's archive 
encompasses some of the most renowned Jamaican 
artists in history, and the box set I've compiled 
for Trojan Records is a slice of material from 
their catalog. It's a double CD with outtakes and 
extremely rare versions of Jamaican material from 
the last 40 years.

Paul aka Dj Spooky

Heel up, Wheel up, come back, rewind: Trojan Records
by Paul D. Miller

When Trojan Records asked me to do a "selections" 
from their archive, one of the first things that 
went through my mind was how do you mix music 
that changed the world? It's been about fifty 
years since Jamaica has become an independent 
country, and it seems like the music that comes 
from this tiny island in the Caribbean is having 
more of an impact than ever.

Trojan Records' founder, Arthur "Duke" Reid, used 
to drive the Trojan brand of trucks around 
Kingston with huge speakers blasting his 
innovative collection of Jamaican music, leading 
to the urban legend of how the name of the 
soundsystem cum record label developed. "Duke" 
was a former policeman, and it comes as no 
surprise that the "ruff and rude" sounds of the 
Kingston underground were the staple of his sound.

The metaphor of the Trojan truck, mapped onto the 
Greek legend of the Trojan house, is as fitting 
as any fiction. Trojan Ltd. was a car company 
that made sturdy trucks that were to become the 
staple of the colonial market export of cars. The 
people of Troy, a great city in ancient Greece, 
were a royal line founded by Zeus and Electra, 
and if the myths of the past are to be kept in 
mind when we think of Jamaica, you can see the 
update: Like the Trojan horse, these stealth 
units, soundsystems, were able to be in plain 
sight while changing the cultural operating 
system of the entire world. Soundsystems were 
portable discos, mobile platforms for different 
styles. They were the preferred method of 
spreading a style because they were nomadic in a 
way that the monumental clubs of the U.S. and 
U.K. couldn't dream of. From the vantage point of 
the 21st century, they can only be viewed as the 
predecessor of the iPod.

Portability, quickness, stealth copies of hit 
songs, "versions"Š All of this leads us to the 
idea of remix culture and "mash-ups" that are the 
digital world's inheritance from the analog media 
of the soundsystem. With the material that I 
selected for this compilation, I wanted to avoid 
the obvious songs of Jamaican history, and focus 
on the more esoteric materials that collectors 
and producers could relate to. For example, when 
the Prodigy sampled Max Romeo and The Upsetters' 
1976 "I Chase The Devil (Lucifer)," I thought it 
would be a good start to think about how the same 
sample popped up on Kayne West's production of 
Jay Z's hit "Lucifer." I think you'll relate to 
the out-take version I included in the 
compilation of Lee "Scratch" Perry's version, 
"Disco Devil." Sounds like piracy? Well can you 
imagine the world without Bob Marley? He used to 
screen records as a clerk for the Coxsone 
soundsystem. He'd literally sift through the 
sounds of the current day to tell Coxsone which 
records to copy! This was invaluable for his 
development as a recording artist and performer.

The "re-mix" was happening in Jamaica to keep the 
best songs fresh with the newest sounds for 
decades before the idea hit the U.S. With Perry 
and his staple of singers like Susan Cadogan (a 
former librarian!), you can hear the heat of a 
Kingston night in songs like her hit, "Fever," 
and her 1974 smash single "Hurt So Good," a cover 
version of Millie Jackson's song by the same 
name. Since copyright law in Jamaica was never 
tight everything was a copy of something else. 
You can think of the whole culture as a shareware 
update, a software source for the rest of the 
world to upload. And if you stretch your ears, 
you can see the future of digital music in the 
drum machine riddim of "Sleng Teng" - a rhythm 
made at King Jammy's on a Casio MT-40 home 

Jamaica created its own economy in sound with the 
relentless bass pressure of an island where 
music, and access to the right styles and sounds 
could make or break your career. The pressure to 
find the right rhythms created a hothouse of 
innovation. Just think: reggae is the expression 
of a nation under immense pressure - from IMF 
loans, from colonialism's aftereffects, the 
falling price of bauxite and its relationship to 
a Third World economy based solely on natural 
products like sugar cane and bananas.

Before hip-hop was global, the Jamaican scene had 
somehow, on the down-low, followed the idea of 
diaspora. Today with artists like Matisyahu in 
Brooklyn doing Hasidic Jewish versions of reggae, 
to stuff like Japan's "Ranking Taxi" to the 
myriad sounds coming out of Brazil, India, 
Tunisia, Germany and France, the tradition of 
pastiche and bricolage continues. You get the 
idea. The logic of diaspora - of taking music 
from a region and spreading it across the world - 
is reggae's core essence, and when I put this mix 
together, I wanted to go from my downtown NYC to 
London and Kingston, to parts of the world I'd 
forgotten and the most distant places of my 
record collection.

I used to go to Jamaica every summer when I was a 
kid, and some of my earliest memories - visiting 
relatives and friends, cousins and uncles and 
aunts - was of my mother and sister reminding me 
of the links between the island and America. My 
Mom used to even used to write for Jamaica's 
equivalent of the New York Times, Kingston's 
"Daily Gleaner!" I want you to feel history when 
you listen to this mix and think about how 
sampling, making new music from old, came from 
the idea of versioning. Think about the 
soundsystem battles of Duke Reid, Sir Coxsone and 
Prince Buster as a forerunner to MC and DJ 
battles in hip-hop. Tthink about Kool Herc's 
soundsystem as a stepping stone for "Planet 
Rock." Just think about how strange the world 
would be if we didn't have this music of the 
islands. It just makes you remember that this 
whole planet is just an island too.

This mix is a combination of the old, the new, 
and the in between. That's kind of the point: DJ 
culture in the 21st century is as much about the 
soundsystem as the playlist. The iPod revolution 
has brought us back to the era of the "single" in 
the form of a downloadable media file. It's a 
return to the era when we were kids in the 
ancient late 1980's, when vinyl still ruled the 
dancehalls, and the soundsystems of NYC, 
Kingston, and London were all about underground 
flava. At a certain point in time, and at a 
certain place - a phrase: architecture is nothing 
but frozen music. What happens when we reverse 
engineer the process? Form becomes flux, solids 
melt into ideas, concepts, blueprints, codes and 
contexts. I wanted to make a mix that reflected 
that: old and new. If there's one thing that 
reggae has told us, it's all about that pressure 


Paul D. Miller a.k.a. DJ Spooky that Subliminal Kid NYC 2006

CD 1
1. Disco Devil by Lee "Scratch" Perry
2. Lama Lava by Augustus Pablo
3. 007 Shanty Town  by Desmond Dekker
4. Funky, Funky Reggae by Dave & Ansel Collins
5. Shades Of Hudson by Dennis Alcapone & Kieth Hudson
6. Come Together by The Israelites
7. Old Fashion Way by Ken Booth and Kieth Hudson
8. Rain by Bruce Ruffin
9. Your Ace From Outer Space by U-Roy
10. Sweet Like Candy by Winston Williams
11. The Rooster by Tommy McCook & His Band
12. The Trial Of Pama Dice by Lloyd/Dice/Mum
13. Fever	by Susan Cadogan
14. Skinhead Moonstomp by Symarip
15. Morning Sun by Al Barry & The Cimarons
16. Save Me by Bob Andy & Marcia Griffiths
17. Rudy A Message To You by Dandy Livingstone
18. James Bond by The Selecter
19. Rough Rider (Live) by The Special Beat
20. Ghost Town (Live) by The Specials
21. Mirror In The Bathroom (Live) by The Special Beat
22. The Russians Are Coming (Take Five) by Val Bennett

CD 2:
1. Entertainer by Charlie Chaplin taken from Dancehall Explosion-20 Killa D
2.The Great Musical Battle by Derrick Morgan
3. Reform Institute by Gregory Isaac's All Stars
4. Popcorn by The Upsetters
5. Brother Noah by The Shadows
6. King Tubby's Explosion Dub by King Tubby
7. Dynamic Fashion Way by U-Roy
8. A Yah We Deh by Barrington Levy
9. Peter Tosh "Here Comes the Judge" - taken from "Trojan Legend Box Set"
10. Dave Barker "Lock Jaw"
11. Dillinger - "Flat Foot Hustling" - taken from "Trojan Legend Box Set
12.  Lee "Scratch" Perry - the Upsetters - "Chapter 2: French Connection"
13. Hot Sauce (Aka The Agro Man Is Back) by Dave & Ansel Collins
  14. A Version I can Feel With Love by Tommy McCook
15. Brain Mark by Jackie Mitoo
16. Pop A Version by Dennis Alcapone
17. Ethiopian Kingdom by Prince Rowland Downer and Count Ossie Band

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